Rock Formation

Introducing My Weekend Homestead

By Erin Huffstetler | 10/03/2014 | 14 Comments
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My husband and I have been married for 13 years, and for most of those years we’ve dreamed about owning a large property where we could spend our weekends and summers. Somewhere we could plant an orchard, a grove and a great big garden. Somewhere our kids could run around and make lots of memories. Somewhere we could hike, fish and hang out around a campfire. Somewhere that our kids could eventually bring their kids to. A magical place where time slows down and the digital world falls away.

But a dream like that? It’s a big one. And it takes a lot of time to make happen. Land is expensive, and the kind of property we were looking for doesn’t pop up every day. So, we looked at properties from time to time and continued to dream, continued to hone our wish list, as the years ticked by.

If I saw something we’d need for our future homestead at a yard sale or in a curb pile, I’d scoop it up, and haul it home. It felt good to be working towards our dream, even if it was in small ways. Over the years our basement has filled up with those finds, and I’ve shared many of them with you. The vintage stove that we bought at an estate sale for $30, the farm table that we rescued from a neighbor’s curb pile. Those were all pieces of our big dream.

And it’s a dream that’s finally taking shape. Today we are closing on a beautiful 35-acre property that is everything we wanted and more than we could have imagined. There’s still lots of hard work ahead of us, but we can’t wait to get started. Because working towards something you want, it just feels good.

Let me show you around.

Cabin - Before

The property is in an extremely rural area, and it wasn’t even developed until 2003. The first owners had electricity and phone service brought in (a major plus), and they dug a shallow well. We’ll have to dig it deeper to make it potable, but the first 48 feet are out of the way. They also built the structure that you see here. It’s a lean to that they built around a bus.

The bus was removed a couple years back, which is why you can see trees through the front windows. Or maybe I should say window openings, since someone swiped several of the windows while it was sitting vacant. Some of the roofing tin, it was stolen too.

But this 3/4 of a cabin, we consider it a major bonus. Because it’s really solidly built. We’re going to repair the weather damage and close in the back side before winter, so we have somewhere to stay right away.

Living Room Fireplace

The living room has a nice stone fireplace. I suspect the stone came from the property because there’s lots of it in the woods.

Back Wall of Living Room

And here’s the back wall of the living room that we’re going to have to close in. We plan to finish this space first, so we have somewhere to stay. Then, we’ll tackle the rest of the cabin.

Kitchen Fireplace

This is the kitchen fireplace. It shares a chimney with the living room fireplace. Both are set up for woodstoves, so we’re on the lookout for a couple cast iron stoves.

Kitchen

And here’s a zoomed out view of the kitchen. It has plenty of room for my farm table and a good-sized work space. They had a rainwater catchment system, which is what a lot of those pipes in the wall are for. Not sure what we’ll do with that, yet.

Back Wall of Kitchen

This is the back wall of the kitchen, or maybe I should say, the future back wall of the kitchen.

Bathroom Before

Here’s the space that the previous owners carved out for a bathroom.

Laundry Room

And I believe this area served as a laundry room. There’s part of a rainwater catchment system in place.

We plan to have a separate bathhouse, so we’ll combine the bathroom and laundry room space into a bunk room.

All told the cabin is about 850 square feet. Plenty of room for the four of us.

Back Door

Now, let’s head out the back door, so I can show you the rest of the property. (Don’t worry, I already have a door on our shopping list).

Bath House Before

The previous owners had horses, and this was their tack house. We plan to use it as our bath house.

Bath House Before - Inside

It’s a generously-sized structure, with plenty of room for two stalls and two sinks. And bonus: no one stole the windows. As you can see from all the sunlight coming through the walls, the siding wasn’t installed properly. We’ll have to take it down and reinstall it.

Since the property doesn’t have a septic system yet, we’ll be using a compost toilet and a solar shower in the short-term. Watch for another post on that.

Ridge View

The property sat empty the last two years, so it really needs to be bush hogged (we’ll take care of that this week). But it’s amazing how many native plants are on the property. We’ll have beautiful wildflower bouquets whenever we want them.

Apple Tree

I spotted this apple tree on one of our first visits.

Blackberry Briars

And there are blackberry briars EVERYWHERE. I can’t wait to see what else we discover.

Pond

The house and tack house sit up on a ridge, with a wonderful breeze. If you walk down the ridge a bit, you come to this gorgeous pond. It has cattails, lilly pads and about a million frogs. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many frogs in one place before.

Pond Closeup

The pond is spring-fed, and it’s supposed to be stocked. We took a fishing rod down there Sunday, but with all the lilly pads, our worm just sat on the surface. We’ll have to do some further investigating.

Just past the pond is a hiking trail. There are about 33 wooded acres with trails throughout.

Deer Prints

And there are lots of signs of wildlife. Some welcome.

Bobcat Print

Some less so.

Rock Formation

About a quarter-mile in, you come to this big rock formation. It looks like something that you’d find in a national park. We’ll definitely have to stick a picnic table or two here. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic.

And that’s where our dream begins.

We have lots of work ahead of us, but that’s okay. Great even. We’re lucky to be able to realize such a big dream, and even luckier to be able to do it while our kids are still at home. They’ve heard us dream about this for years, and I’m happy to be able to show them that big things really can happen. Hopefully it will inspire them to dream big, too. And the time that they spend swinging a hammer or manning a paint brush, that’ll be great for them, too. I want them to grow up with real-world skills and a sense of what can be accomplished with hard work and a positive attitude.

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Comments

  1. Congratulations Erin to you and your husband. This is going to be wonderful for your family. And a ton of work too. But your young and in good health. So that will help. You should seriously consider moving there for good once you get the house in livable condition. A house and property sitting there only for weekend use is asking for vandalism. And frankly, this has been your dream. Don’t reserve it for weekend use. Best of luck, and keep us all posted.

    • I agree with Paul. Dreams are not meant for just weekends. God brought you here. Shine! I met a female, newly divorced who when married was able to purchase a ranch. After the divorce she was unable to keep it up herself. She bartered. A day of work equaled 2 free riding lessons (horses, of course). Perhaps you could try something similar in order to make your dreams a reality sooner. My brother and I volunteered to put up fencing and staining sheds to protect the horses from harsh weather. It was great for everyone involved. She would have about 20+ volunteers on every other Saturday and would stop at lunchtime and serve chili and cornbread. It was a great way to meet new people with the same thoughts and character and help another person reach her dream. Win/Win situation for all involved. I learned how to put up fencing, groom a horse, ride a horse, RELAX, and work towards my own dream of owning a ranch someday. We all have something to learn … we all have something to teach. Opportunities abound! Congratulations to each of you! God blesses. ~ Lynn

  2. wow girl! thats a beautiful piece of property! you and your family have tons of work to do to get it livable, but think of what it will be like when done, wow.

    have fun exploring your new world, keep us posted on your progress. watch your blackberry patches – there are BEARS out there that love those things – we got’em too – had to cut ours down – but plenty more for them elsewhere in the woods – away from our house.

    it will be a great experience for your kids – as you said to have survival skills – looks like we all might need some soon. I’m really excited for you guys!!! be safe – watch for wild animals, snakes, and just learned hard lesson: LEAVE CATERPILLARS ALONE!!!! they will sting worse than bees.

  3. Congratulations, Erin, to you and your family. I wish I’d been as smart as you a lot earlier in my life. I can’t wait to see what you do with the property, and all the curb-mart items you found to furnish it. Good for you (all)! Watch those bigger paw-prints, okay?

  4. Congratulations! Lovely land and house bones. Can you access in winter? I live in Australia so snow is a bit of a mystery : ) really thrilled for you and your family.

    • Yep, it’ll be accessible in the winter. We don’t get much snow in Tennessee, but I sort of have the feeling it’s going to be a snowy winter this year. There’s a great hill for sledding.

  5. Congratulations on your dream come true! Can’t wait for you to show us the progress through photos. You andthe family are very blessed. Let the memories begin!

  6. This post was sooooo much fun to read! Congratulations to you and your entire family! Am very excited to follow your progress. Good luck with everything 🙂

  7. Wow, Erin you have found yourself a great piece of land. Please keep us posted on all the work you will be doing.

    God bless.

  8. Place has great potential. You might want to keep the rainwater catchment for gardens and if you have a dry summer. Even wells dry up some times. and it is a drag hauling water.
    If you want a quick & inexpensive shower until you are set up, try a garden sprayer. One about 2 ft high and 9 or 10″ in diameter, with the handle on the top that you pump for pressure. You can pick one up on sale for $10 or $15. You will want a new one so you know it has only had water in it. Warm the water, put it in and unscrew the long wand and rescrew the nozzle back on. Set the sprayer on a stool at the right height that you can put the sprayer on a hook above your head; will have to make a lower hook for the kids. Usually you can get a whole shower without repumping. Once you get the hang of it and try it, it is really easy. Can even be used inside in the winter with a hula hoop to hang 2 shower curtains (to go all the way aroung) and put the bottom of the shower curtains into a large tub. Really is easy and nothing feels better than a shower after working hard all day. Good luck with your dream.

  9. Wow, congratulations! I’ve been following your blog for a while now, getting some great tips. Best of luck to you guys!

  10. Thanks guys. We just got back from two days of working on the property, and managed to get the living room completely enclosed, so now we have a place to stay when we go up to work. It’s amazing how much better it looks already. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera, but I’ll snap some pics on our next trip up and share them. I still can’t believe our dream is coming true. It rained all day yesterday while we were working, but I didn’t mind a bit. Just feeling really lucky to be able to make this happen.

  11. Congratulations on your new property, house & pond!! You can invite us over for a fish fry sometime. 🙂 We look forward to seeing all of your pictures as both of your dreams come true!!
    Love you all, Uncle Riley & Aunt Judi

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